WHAT DOES FEMINISM MEAN TODAY?
Feminism is a topic that divides opinion amongst all genders. In our digital age and with the relentless expansion of social media, has Feminism lost it's way or is it stronger than ever? For International Women's Day 2017, we asked a selection of female creatives what feminism means to them, how it's changed and where it's going...
Do you identify as a feminist?
Hayley Brown: Yes!
Imogen Wilson: Yes, of course.
Ysa Perez: I've never blatantly said out loud 'I'm a feminist' as I don't like overused labels but sure, I believe that men and women and transgender, everyone, should live amongst each other equally without societal pressure interfering with daily life.
Jo Sindle: I don't identify with the word Feminist anymore, but yes I have always been, and am still, pro equal rights for women. I am however pro equality in all social and political senses, for all people, humanity is my concern, not just one specific group. Promoting and fighting for one over the other isn't going to affect positive change..we don't want to better one and alienate another, it will only lead to more unrest. Im a strong believer that equal is the only way forward. I don't want to be pro women and anti men..we have a responsibility to nurture future generations of men and boys who are notoriously struggling more and more with mental health issues and depression. I used to wear a T shirt from a famous feminist book store in LA which said on it - The Future is Female. I don't wear it anymore, I realised it's not a positive statement, it alienates men and therefore divides rather than brings together. A better tshirt would be: The Future is Equal.
Badlands Magazine: Undoubtedly. Those who do not identify as feminists are not a part of the solution, but a part of the problem. It's mad to us that feminism has become such a filthy word that even now, in 2017, it makes both men and women feel uncomfortable. The feminist movement is not concerned with plotting the demise of men, but fighting for the outstanding equality between genders.
Eclair Fifi: Yes!!!
What is feminism to you? Does the term confuse or inspire you?
Hayley Brown: To me, it’s wanting everybody to have equal opportunities regardless of which gender, if any, they identify as. I don’t think there’s anything confusing about wanting to be treated with the same respect as everybody else.
Imogen Wilson: Equality of sexes. Inspiring!
Ysa Perez: Feminism to me is straight not giving a fuck and living my life regardless of my gender/race/social status/financial status etc.
Jo Sindle: I think the term is confused these days. I believe strongly that Feminism as a term and a mainstream movement has been hijacked by corporate and political interests, which appalls me, and I can't relate to it anymore. Many people still don't realise how this is happening and I find that frustrating. I believe we have a duty to understand things we follow deeply rather than in a superficial way. Things that seem proactive and positive on the surface, can be used to be divisive and distract from more real issues. I'm cynical of everything in these times of mass propaganda and I make sure I do my research well before affiliating myself with people or movements. Truth and integrity are of utmost importance to me.
Badlands Magazine: Feminism is crucial to every aspect of our lives. To us, it is opportunity, choice, freedom, justice and equality. It has been the fundamental theme throughout all of our creative endeavours and will continue to inspire our future work. However, we strongly feel that it is important for feminism to be viewed as a human right and not as a generation trend.
Eclair Fifi: Intersectionality. Feminism to me is about the greater good for every women from all backgrounds. A lot of people get confused with the term, confusing it with a hatred for men but it's about equality... it benefits all genders not just women. A happy strong woman makes everyone around her happy too - get it?
How has the concept of feminism changed in your lifetime?
Hayley Brown: I think in recent years the term has been pushed into the forefront of mainstream consciousness through pop culture icons in a positive way, rather than the perhaps more negative connotations of earlier generations. So feminism is now in a place where young women aspire to identify as feminist, rather than to feel afraid or intimidated by the idea. And I hope this will allow all women to feel that they can challenge boundaries more than ever.
Imogen Wilson: There has been a huge shift in my thinking over the last five or so years. Growing up, I alway took notice of people's negative thoughts, comments and actions towards females and gender variant people. But it always seemed as though that's just the way it was and we would have to put up with it. Things weren’t changing. Nowadays I like to think that a lot more people would challenge those negative and sexist actions and that these things aren't just ignored anymore. Things are different now, we are raising awareness about equality daily, educating people on feminism and breaking down the barriers of expectations between gender more that ever before.
Ysa Perez: It's a notion I used to read in textbooks and now to see it live and direct, it's a reminder that we always need to be pushing for progress and there's still a ton of road to pave. It's not a movement I got to really be involved in during my youth, but with social media and the 24/7 connection, it's very inspiring to see young girls completely sure of themselves and have no qualms of fighting for what is right. Their sense of awareness is far greater than what I was exposed to in the early 2000s.
Jo Sindle: I feel like when I was a kid popular culture was less overtly about using a women's image to sell stuff. My icons as a kid / young woman - in music, film, even mainstream stuff - seemed to have a stronger self assured sense of self which didn't rely on looks, sex and beauty as much as what is required now. I don't think industry was a synical or as blatant as it is now in its use of women, in that sense sometimes I feel like we have gone backwards since I was a kid, and that women are more consumed as object now than 30 years ago.
Badlands Magazine: As children of the 1990s, our feminist ideology began with the Girl Power revolution brought forward by The Spice Girls. Of course, as we’ve grown older, it has become a very real and very significant part of our adult lives.
Eclair Fifi: The movement hasn't changed, only the current social issues change. Years ago we fought for things like voting, today we're (still) fighting for the wage gap to be diminished and more women to be booked at festivals etc...the mission statement is still the same.
Do you think feminism is a necessary movement in Western society anymore and are women's rights outside of your own environment important to you?
Hayley Brown: Totally. Look at how impactful the recent women’s marches were across the whole world. It is more than necessary. There are so many reasons why it’s necessary, like the fact that 34 states in the USA still have a statute of limitations on rape and sex crimes. In Florida, it’s only 4 years. So many women don’t report these types of crimes because of it, especially when they have a lack of DNA evidence to ensure a conviction.
Ysa Perez: Of course it is - it is still very unequal between both men and women so we must keep going until we can promote a society that doesn't cast ideas onto individuals from the start, so we can begin as blank slates and embrace natural abilities without prejudice. Women's rights outside my own are very important to me, I often remind myself how lucky I am to be a woman in America and more or less, do whatever the fuck I please. That's hardly a reality for most of the rest of the world, so I stay grateful and humble because my other sisters aren't as fortunate. I hustle for that.
Jo Sindle: Yes I think equality for women still has a place in western society - women still don't get paid as much, don't get treated the same when they choose to have kids etc, there isn't correct laws in place when it comes to domestic abuse and rape, there are definitely still significant things that need to change. Personally within my peer group I have never come across anti-woman behaviour, I have many close male friends, some who I've known since school and they have never made me feel different to them, so my own experience is positive. I notice conditioning in the industry I work in though, the streetwear business can be a pretty male dominated place and I have come across a few people in the 10 years that I've owned Goodhood who assume that the ‘business' side of things is ran by Kyle, they assume it because he is a man. They are wrong of course, and I don't get annoyed by it, it just shows that some underlying conditioning still exists for some people - I believe that mentality will die out in generations to come though.
Outside of these immediate things, I don't feel like I need to be an activist for women's rights in the west at the moment. I'm actively focusing my energies on issues in the west that I feel need more support and get little airtime in the media - establishment child abuse and care for refugees being two of the things that I think need immediate attention and activism from the masses. Women's rights in other countries also concern me, political understanding and action are important - the consequences of what we do in the west are felt by mistreated women in some of the most turbulent countries in the world, I think thats important for women over here to understand.
Badlands Magazine: Yes, it is outrageously necessary - there is still so much more to fight for, even in Western Society. We understand that whilst it remains an issue within our environment, we are incredibly fortunate in comparison to other women around the world who face far more severe affliction on a daily basis. Every woman deserves to have equal rights and we all need to fight for one another.
Eclair Fifi: Absolutely. It might be slowly getting better but for every girl that might have got a promotion there's still someone that's been unfairly discriminated against. Feminism doesn't have time for selfishness...just because it's good for you it doesn't mean equality has been reached. The #idontneedfeminism movement had me furious, pretty much entirely posted by rich white girls may I add.
Images copyright Badlands Magazine
Do you think partial nudity/underwear selfies etc. on social media promote objectification or do you see this as empowerment? Please explain either way.
Hayley Brown: I don’t see it as either. Your body, your rules. As long as you’re in control of every aspect of what you’re putting out via social media then do your thing. I think taking selfies when you’re feeling good about how you look is owning any possible objectification before someone else gets the chance to. It’s much safer, in my opinion, to decide what can be commented on (regarding your appearance) in your own online space than to be, for example, cat called on the street.
Imogen Wilson: Empowerment. I personally don’t post much of myself online, but I’m all for it. Do what you want, show what you want, celebrate each other and don’t slut shame. Just make sure your posting for yourself, not for someone else. Do you.
Ysa Perez: I hate that shit. I hate my 10 year old niece has to look up to Kylie Jenner. I hate that girls are getting this idea of 'sexy' at an age they should just keep being children. The amount of self absorption on the internet is insanity. Sure when I feel good, I post when I'm looking good, it's whatever, I get it, but we need MORE girls promoting what we're able to do, we already know women are forever hotter than guys, let's move on.
Jo Sindle: Personally I feel like maybe it does promote objectification, although recently someone introduced me to the idea of post feminism, which is interesting. As long as it truly is women acting from a position of self knowing, rather than from a place of neediness / insecurity, then I get it. Selfies belong to a culture from a different generation to myself and I don't fully get the phenomenon to be honest. Younger women I know may post the odd selfie or pouty shot and I don't think it does compromise their integrity if it's the odd one and they have more to their feed than that, however I still get surprised when they do it. I wonder how much people think about the consequences of our selfie obsessed world, how this may impact women or culture. Most of the young women I know are switched on so are probably aware of what they are doing but I do wonder how many girls are just going along with stuff just because it's considered normal now...this kind of worries me.
Badlands Magazine: If women feel empowered by sharing partially nude photos of themselves then it should be celebrated instead of shamed. It is that individual woman’s right...
Eclair Fifi: For me, it depends on who/why is posting it - the message feels wrong when it's a corporate company using naked bodies to promote something which then portrays an unrealistic body image that can in turn damage girls self-esteem. When a women posts photos of herself whether she's naked or not - she's in control of her own body and we shouldn't be afraid of nakedness or someone's confidence, it's her choice and that is empowering.
Do you think social media and the normality of 'perfect image' and self promotion have diluted the idea of female equality and feminist sentiment amongst younger women?
Hayley Brown: I don’t think so. I see women telling each other that they’re beautiful constantly on social media, and there’s a real sense of camaraderie in that. There’s a sense of women dressing and wearing make-up for themselves, and for each other, rather than for a male gaze. And I also think that social media has allowed for women to be exposed to the bad ass Grace Neutrals and Arvida Byströms and Liv Littles and Paloma Elsessers and Soki Maks of the world, as well as the Kylie Jenners. There’s someone for everyone to look up to and feel inspired by because of social media, and without it, maybe young women would only get to see the Kylie Jenners.
Imogen Wilson: I’m on the fence with this. Social media can put lots of pressure on young women, but it is also an amazing platform for people to support each other and share each other’s creative work and opinions. The main thing I think everyone needs to understand, not just women, is that social media is usually only 10% of someone’s life, usually their most attractive 10% or sometimes their most honest, if they are awesome. Nobody’s perfect or has it as sweet as it seems, everyone has their personal shit to deal with, some people just hide it real good.
Ysa Perez: Social media has done so much bad where do I even start? It goes with my last answer of being disturbed that girls today, like my little niece, have only models to look up to and their 'beauty' to rely on. I think the amount of psychological damage it's doing to the upcoming generation is so ridiculously dangerous. Not just to girls, to young boys as well accessing porn from a young age and not understanding fully how to treat women or treat themselves regarding their own vulnerable feelings. But, we apparently like this imagery, we feed into it, demand more of it - so it's a chain, it keeps coming back to us. Once we start weaning off these digital avatars we have carved for ourselves and start craving real life interaction again, we might start shifting away from all this social media dependency we thought initially was benefiting us.
Jo Sindle: Selfies/social media gratification gives a quick hit of ego boosting dopamine rather than a manifestation of true happiness or wellbeing, so essentially I don't see it as being good for the soul or the mind of anyone, not just young women, in the long run. Social media seems to perpetuate a culture of comparison to an imaginary image or life of seeming perfection, by its nature there is not much possible positive outcome in that, it means people are always aspiring to something that doesn't exist. For women I think this is more heightened because it's often about looks and beauty, as well as material/social/cultural stuff that's promoted on social media...that's become normal, so yes I think it may have diluted the idea.
Badlands Magazine: To be exposed to such a ’perfect’ and one-dimensional version of beauty is of course potentially dangerous and destructive to the young impressionable girls who misinterpret the image as an unrealistic goal and look to achieve. As mentioned in our previous answer, there should be no limitations to what women choose to share on social media, however, we feel that, as women, we should take it upon ourselves to guide younger females into a healthier and more realistic perception of beauty.
Eclair Fifi: I feel there are too many empty 'movements' that were clearly made to market something else - just like #freethenipple...the sentiment is right but it has been exploited so much I don't recognise it as grass roots at all.
Alix Dobkin by Lisa Cowan, 1975.
What is the future for feminism?
Hayley Brown: My three year old (honorary) niece Biba is the future for feminism.
Imogen Wilson: Teaching kids, teens and adults about gender equality, along with self worth and respect for others.
Ysa Perez: Welcoming more and more dialogue regarding issues that affect both men + women. No limit.
Jo Sindle: The future is equal. Women and men both deserve to be respected equally for their differences and their strengths proportionally and equally. The future is not about one over the other, the future is about peaceful and respectful equality and coexistence between all humanity :) .
Badlands Magazine: We will get there. Every day we’re getting closer and the setbacks we face only fuel our fires. We all need to keep doing what we’re doing and never give up on the fight for equality.
Eclair Fifi: Teaching our wee brothers and sisters everything we know, they're our future.